Edinburgh is the first gorgeous city I experienced in Scotland. It is a bustling tourist town surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, tall trees, and lush greenery. Despite only having a mere three days to explore, I was able to see a decent amount of the city for little to no fees! Check out these free attractions in Edinburgh to get a taste of fantastic views and landmark sites the city has to offer.
Edinburgh is famous for Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano that allows for a spectacular view of the entire city. One of my peers, Grace Massamillo, was able to hike to the top of Arthur’s seat and was also kind enough to share her experience! Here’s what she had to say:
“Arthur’s Seat, although pretty chilly up top, was breathtaking (not just because of the altitude). I was ecstatic to be hiking up with the people I’d met and grown so close to, and see nearly all of Edinburgh from the views. It definitely wasn’t our estimated 15 minutes… but it was worth every second. ” — a Second-year student at UT Austin and participant of Arcadia University Summer STEM Research Program
St. Giles’ Cathedral
St. Giles’ Cathedral dates back to the 14th century. The church is located on High Street, a popular tourist area full of cafes, pubs, and shopping. Stop by this historic place of worship if you would like to see intricate, colorful stained-glass windows, a huge organ, and Gothic architecture at its best.
National Museum of Scotland
This museum was renovated in 2011 after standing tall for approximately 200 years! Visit this place full of art relics, scientific contributions, and thousands of natural history artifacts. Admission is free and there is so much to see! One of the most interesting exhibits is about genetics in society. The National Museum of Scotland proudly showcases Dolly the Sheep in a large, rotating glass display. Dolly the Sheep was the first mammal cloned from an adult cell at the Roslin Institute, a part of the University of Edinburgh.
Harry Potter landmarks
If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, you’re in for a real treat! Renowned author J.K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh while she was writing many of the Harry Potter books. That means the city is full of quirky places where Rowling was inspired to write her mystical Harry Potter series. The first stop on the Harry Potter tour is the Elephant House Cafe. This warm and friendly coffee shop full of elephant decorations is where Rowling wrote the Chamber of Secrets! Another popular spot for Potter-loving tourists is Spoon, a cozy restaurant known for its hearty meals and homey atmosphere. Another great place to visit is the tiles at City Chambers. JK Rowling received the Edinburgh Award so her gold handprints are here.